Helmsley Charitable Trust Increases Support for Maternal & Child Health Projects in Zambia

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded a $1.4 million, three-year grant to Medicines for Humanity to expand the scope of critically needed maternal and child health services in Zambia.  

Medicines for Humanity (MFH) has worked in Zambia since 2017 on the Mai M’beleki (Safe Delivery for Mothers) project supporting communities in the Eastern Province to strengthen maternal and child health (MCH) clinical services, improve community health outreach and education, strengthen community-based interventions for long-term sustainability, and improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices. During the project’s successful pilot phase, which was made possible through a combination of local support, MFH internal resources, and funding from several foundations, MFH worked in partnership with the Zambian Episcopal Conference and the Diocese of Chipata to support the Muzeyi Health Center. In 2020, with the generous support from Helmsley, the project expanded to three additional facilities in the Eastern Province, enabling MFH to reach more than 161,000 people. 

Over the past three years, the Mai M’beleki project has constructed more than 2,700 latrines. Other impressive health outcomes in its target communities include an 80% decrease in children born with low birthweight, a 60% decrease in diarrheal rates, a 75% reduction in home deliveries, a 40% reduction in child deaths, zero still births, and zero maternal deaths. As a result, with Helmsley’s generous continued support and dedication to building resilience to improve lives, MFH, in collaboration with our current and new local partners, is expanding services to four new project sites in the country’s Northern Province and two new clinics in the Southern Province. We will also continue our efforts at the four clinics in the Eastern Province and purchase additional essential medical equipment.  

“In addition to the ongoing support we have received from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, our success with the Mai M’beleki project can be directly attributed to the commitment and collaboration of our in-country partners and traditional village leaders to leverage community resources and bring about systemic change,” said Kristen Fanfant, MFH Executive Director.  

This three-year expansion project will build the capacity of clinic and community health care workers and reach 340,000 impoverished people with quality, effective MCH interventions, nutrition services, and WASH practices specifically designed to foster substantial and sustainable impact that will ultimately reduce child and maternal mortality in target communities. Some of the project’s outcomes that MFH anticipates are a 50% decrease in the number of children dying before their fifth birthday, a 30% increase in access to food for food insecure households, and an 80% increase in access to early childhood development services. 

 “The numbers speak for themselves and are only possible through the community’s trust and ownership of the project,” said Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley trustee. “MFH provides a wonderful model for how to build the kind of trust and partnership that’s needed to help individuals and communities create stronger, healthier futures.” 

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